Investing In Pickering with Ralph Del Duca of Chestnut Hill Developments
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Ralph Del Duca of Chestnut Hill Developments talks about why Pickering is a great city to invest in, what is driving the strong rental rates in Pickering, and the “miracle” that happened in his first condo in Pickering – San Francisco by The Bay Phase 1.
Ralph Del Duca Interview Highlights
0:55 What’s Happening in Pickering? 5:55 Who is Ralph Del Duca & How Did He Get Into Real Estate? 8:57 What Has the Market Changed Since the ’80s? 9:50 Is There a Condo Bubble in the GTA? 10:55 San Francisco by the Bay 13:12 Why is Pickering a Good Place to Invest In? 14:54 Rental Rates in Pickering 17:28 Maintenance Fees Going Down 19:18 Chestnut Hill’s Pipeline Plans 22:09 How to Reach Out to Chestnut Hill Developments
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Ralph Del Duca Interview Transcript
Andrew la Fleur:
Hello, and welcome back to the show. On today’s show were going to be talking a lot about Pickering. The reason we’re talking about Pickering is because we have a very special investment opportunity there right now. The project is called San Francisco By The Bay, Phase 2, Building 2. The developer is Chestnut Hill Developments. We’re going to be talking to the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Chestnut Hill Developments. His name is Ralph Del Duca. We’ll get to the interview with Ralph in just a minute. He’s going to tell us more about Chestnut Hill Homes and this project and why it’s a great opportunity to get into.
Specifically, I thought just some information about Pickering itself because a lot of people listening probably don’t know too much about Pickering unless you’re from Pickering or Durham Region, you might not realize what’s happening in the City of Pickering. Specifically over the next 15 years or so, the Pickering population is expected to double in size. Right now it’s just under 100,000 … Around 90,000, 95,000. It’s projected to go to about 190,000 people.
Another big thing that’s happening is Pickering is getting an international airport. Pickering has airport lands and the federal government has approved an airport to go into Pickering. That is going to happen. Also, Pickering is expected to … This hasn’t been finalized but it’s expected to get a casino … Not just a casino but actually a large entertainment and resort convention complex, you could say. The city of Pickering … The Council has fully approved a casino and the population of Pickering, actually, also has approved bringing a casino to Pickering. It’s just waiting for the province to make their final decision. It is expected that Pickering will be the choice for a new casino.
Also, Pickering will also be home to Canada’s largest residential development. That’s an area called Seton and it is in the north end of Pickering sort of between the currently developed area of Pickering and the future airport lands. In between there is an area that’s called Seton. It’s going to home to 30,000 new homes over the next, again, 10-15 years. Those homes will be built out … 30,000 new homes. Several developers will be building there.
Finally, there’s south of the 401 in Pickering between the 401 and Bailey, there is sort of a high density, urban corridor that is going to be built out over the next 10-15 years as well with approvals and support from the city in place to build as many as 10-15 high-rise residential and officer towers in that corridor, strategically located, obviously, right beside the 401 and right beside the Go-Transit station.
A few other more interesting facts about Pickering, if you are an investor thinking about why invest in Pickering, what’s happening there versus say Toronto … The first thing is that you’ve got great rapid transportation to Toronto from Pickering. It’s actually, believe it or not, it’s only a 26 minute Go-Train ride which is nonstop … They have an express train right from Pickering to Union Station … 26 minutes. You are right in the heart of downtown. It’s faster than getting downtown say Young and Shepherd, for example, on the subway. You’re faster in Pickering.
There’s an amazing potential rental pool. You’re always thinking about who’s going to rent from me and you’re buying as an investor. Pickering has a very affluent population overall. The average household income in Pickering is $114,000 which is incredible and approximately 65% of the population of Pickering has a post-secondary degree or diploma so very educated, very affluent residents in Pickering.
Closing costs, of course, in Pickering are going to be significantly lower. Closing costs are becoming more and more of a concern for investors looking at property in Toronto. It is a reality, of course, with any investment. You always have closing costs. The nice thing about Pickering is you only have one land transfer tax in Pickering. The development charges you’re going to find in Pickering are significantly lower than that in Toronto.
Again, there’s some interesting things to know about Pickering if you didn’t. If you want to get all the information, of course, on this opportunity, San Francisco By The Bay, Phase 2, special investment opportunity then just head on over to truecondos.com, sign up for the information or you can always send me an email directly, firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you that information right away.
Without further adieu, let’s get to the interview with Ralph Del Duca of Chestnut Hill Developments. Here we go.
Okay, it’s my pleasure to welcome to show, Ralph Del Duca. Ralph is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Chestnut Hill Developments. Ralph, welcome to the show.
Ralph Del Duca: Thank you.
Andrew la Fleur: Ralph, why don’t we start off … Just introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about who you are, your background, your history. How did you get started in real estate, for example?
Ralph Del Duca: I got started in real estate back in the early 80’s. I was in the University in business school. I always had a dream to work and develop an industry. From there I started to do real estate. I got my broker’s license in the summer. I started my real estate license in the summer and I started to do some selling of homes at the time while I was still in business school. Later on I wanted to transition into doing land sales and eventually started to do new home sales.
I became Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Chestnut Hill Developments who originally was a a client of mine. From that time, I became Vice President of Sales and Marketing and we moved forward from that day on. We’ve had a good relationship. We built over 5,000 homes since 1981. We’ve been one of the key builders in the East End. I know the East End very well and I’ve seen the whole growth patterns happening from Whitby to Ajax to Pickering. I’ve seen Pickering develop from sort of a little town to a city and to where it’s going into the future. We’re very excited about being part of that.
I’ve also been on the Board of Directors of The BILD which was the Toronto Home Builders Association. I’ve been on many of the committees of the Toronto Home Builders which is BILD and been very actively involved in the industry from the day I started working in it.
Andrew la Fleur: It sounds like you’ve had a … A lot of people seem to come into real estate from other industries but sounds like you sort of knew you wanted to be in real estate from the beginning. Did you come from a real estate family or I’m just curious, what was the appeal to real estate for you and what makes you passionate about it today?
Ralph Del Duca: I didn’t come from a real estate family but I’ve always had a passion that I always wanted to be involved in the building industry. I wanted to be a builder. I wanted to do land development. It sort of was a progression from being a real estate agent to get involved in it. It just excited me everyday seeing the transition, creating homes and creating communities for many people to live in.
As a matter of fact, we were one of the first developers to create a master planned community up in New Market. It was a full service community where we put in the first rec center in it, baseball diamonds … All the facilities were in before the first family moved in. It’s sort of been a key component of our development that we always make sure that we have the services in place for the residents so they’re not waiting for things to happen as they move into their projects.
Andrew la Fleur: Interesting. How is the market sort of different from your early days in the 80’s to today? What do you see that’s changed and what do see that’s the same?
Ralph Del Duca: I think what’s changed is that people are more selective as to what they want in a house. It’s not space. It’s not square footage. It’s usable space as opposed to … I remember when I first started, everybody was going towards the Scarlet O’Hara staircase, these expansive hallways and now whether it’s residential or high-rise, people are saying, “You know what? I want space that I can live in it.” They’re trying to become more and more minimalistic as opposed to having just empty space that they can’t furnish. That’s been one trend.
Also, people are very selective as to where they live and that the facilities are available to them and the proximity to all the services from where they live. That’s one of the key components that people are really cognizant of right now.
Andrew la Fleur: Once you take on the question that everybody seems to want to ask, you probably get asked all the time, is there a housing bubble or specifically what we’re talking about today, is there a condo bubble in the GTA? What do you say to that question?
Ralph Del Duca: I don’t see it. I still see it’s a steady market. I think what’s happened is because there are more players in the industry, there are more sales so people say, “Well, you know, there’s this big bubble and it’s just going to burst.” I think people, with the advent of advertising and social media and all the ways of talking to people, more interest is happening and people are saying, “You know what? I want to get into the market.” I think we’ve always been …
One thing that hasn’t changed … Has been a constant is that we, in the Toronto or GTA still want to own homes. I think that’s a plus factor … Plus the immigration and because we’re such a diverse society, the immigration from all facets and people coming here who are educated and have money are buying houses. I don’t see a bubble in the real estate industry right now. I don’t see it for years to come.
Andrew la Fleur: Why don’t we talk about San Francisco By The Bay, obviously the project that we’re dealing with right now. We’ve got a very exciting opportunity coming up there. Tell us a little bit more about the project and the history of the sight there … How it came about with Chestnut Hill and what’s happening with that project right now.
Ralph Del Duca: The history of the project is it happened as … It was an under-utilized plaza which we purchased. Most of the tenants had left and we decided to take over the plaza and go through development stage. Our initial plan was to do a low-rise project of townhouses because historically, at that time we had more low-rise as opposed to high-rise. We sort of spoke to our developers and our planners and with the city and wanted to do a low-rise project of townhouses.
We later looked at the project and said, “You know what? Maybe there’s a play here,” because the Go-Train station also, with the intensification that the province and the city wanted in the area and the Go-Train station being about a 10 minute walk from our project, we decided to look at the entire project and put high-rise, commercial, low-rise, live/work and make it one of the first master planned communities … High-rise master planned communities in the East End.
To that effect we were successful. We sold out our 120 townhomes. We released 110 initially and we sold them out in record time. We released our first building which had 235 units and commercial space on the first floor. That also sold very well. Even right now, the resale of that building … And still there’s a big demand for it for a couple of reasons. It’s a clean site, close proximity to the Go-Train station, quick service to downtown Toronto, lake views and you have all the trails surrounding the site.
You have a 10 minute walk to Frenchman’s Bay down by the ports which has gone through a whole rejuvenation process. You’ve got Cape Cod in your backyard and it has everything that people want from a security, from facilities, from commercial. You can live/work there at the townhouses and you can also live in the complex and shop just below.
Andrew la Fleur: Here is a question that I know some people are asking and that is, there’s so many condos going up in the GTA, particularly, obviously, in Toronto itself, why Pickering? Why is Pickering a good place to invest in and why is this a good condo to purchase as an investment?
Ralph Del Duca: It’s very simple. Usually we always talk in the past. Had I been there then or we say, “The good old days were 20 years ago.” Well, I can say one thing … That the good old days are here right now. If we look at all the lakeside communities from Oakville to Oshawa, you can see that things are starting to happen. They happened in Oakville and people missed out. They happened in Mississauga and people missed out. It happened in Toronto and people missed out.
All the condos in downtown Toronto are right on the lake where there was Harbor Square or the other condos that were on the lake in downtown Toronto … The first condos, they sort of became out of reach. Right now we’re at the bottom of the market and as an investment, you can come in and you can purchase a condo with a lake view which is close to Toronto and it’s in a prime development or you can say, “You know what? I want to live here.” If you’re a couple that’s starting out, “I want to live here because I can realize the profit,” because the growth of Pickering is very phenomenal. You can either sit back and say, “I wish I had done it,” or you can go into it and say, “I’m thank I have done it.”
There’s two things. You can either buy now and wait or you can wait to buy. When you wait to buy, the prices keep going up and then at one point, it’ll be a self-serving practice … Says, “You know what? I knew it was going to burst,” but you waited for it to burst so it had to burst at one time.
Andrew la Fleur: One things that’s really interesting about the building, San Francisco Phase 1 which is the completed building like you said … All the amenities are all completed. The building is fully sold out. Is the rental rates … Are surprisingly high, aren’t they? Can you tell us, especially speaking to to somebody who’s maybe used to investing in Toronto condos, what can they expect on a rental basis there?
Ralph Del Duca: You can expect between $210 and $250 a square foot. The vacancy rate in that building is basically nil. As soon as the units come on the market, they rent out because of the number of companies that are starting to relocate in the Pickering area whether it’s Ontario Park or Press and Purdue, Pharmacy Canada, Norinco Manufacturing, Hubble Canada, Rogers, Seamons, Yorkville Sound … These are only to name a few of the [inaudible 00:15:48] people some high tech companies plus the fact that educationally … A number of the universities and colleges have located there. There’s an excellent rental market. People don’t only want to live in Toronto, they also want to live there plus there are very few rental buildings in the Pickering area. You have very little to no competition around you.
Andrew la Fleur: Yeah, absolutely. We’ve talked about that as well. The lack of supply in Pickering is a huge factor. If you want to live in a high-rise condominium with a fully amenitized building … Concierge, pool, gym, party room … Everything that we love in our Toronto condo, so to speak, there’s very few options in Pickering, aren’t there?
Ralph Del Duca: Very few options. Not because I’m the builder but it’s resort style living. When you walk into the building where the concierge greets you with this expansive, two-story lobby and when you look at the first building, the pride of ownership of the owners of the building, it feels like the building was just completed a month ago. It’s well maintained, well managed and well kept. The pool is a massive pool, steam bath … You have a whirlpool. You have a party room with an outdoor patio. You have a yoga room, fitness room, guest suites and you have a rooftop terrace with two barbecues and a place you can just sit there and relax or have a breathtaking view of the lake. You can have a beautiful view of the city of Toronto also from there. Whether you look east or west, you’ve got views everywhere you look.
Andrew la Fleur: Another very interesting thing, almost like a miracle happened or something … Something that we almost never hear about and that’s that the maintenance fees in the first building, they actually went down, didn’t they? Tell us about that. There’s a big fear with a lot of first time condo investors, I find, that they’re afraid of maintenance fees. They think maintenance fees are going to skyrocket and they’re going to kill their cash flows. That is a big worry for a lot of people getting into the condo market is what’s going to happen to these maintenance fees. There’s a lot of misconceptions out there. Why don’t you tell us about what happened with the first building.
Ralph Del Duca: The first building, the maintenance fees actually went down. Right now for the new building, they’re $.49 which is unheard of in a condo complex, especially a condo complex with these services. If you look at it, the first building sort of, upfront, had all the costs of maintenance for the pool and all the amenities. Now you’re going to have another 169 families … 169 units are going to be supporting that so the economy is a scale … It’s going to kick in and it’s only going to become less. If not less, it’s actually going to stay at the same amount.
It’s well managed and I’d like to say also that’s it’s well built. We took pride in what we did and we made sure that it was built right and that we put in all the facilities properly and that we didn’t do it so it would be wasting money for the homeowners. It did go down and it’s staying low. As a matter of fact, the project manager tells me the first building was behind the second building and all the budgets are realistic as they came from the project manager that is there right now. It’s not a fictitious number that’s just pulled out of a hat.
Andrew la Fleur: Right.
Ralph Del Duca: It’s a true number and it has some support of historical support with it.
Andrew la Fleur: Why don’t you tell us a little bit more. This is San Francisco By The Bay, Phase 2, is one building but you’ve got much bigger plans, I know. Why don’t you tell us about Chestnut Hills plans for other developments in the area in the future.
Ralph Del Duca: Certainly … I talked, sorry. Go ahead?
Andrew la Fleur: Yeah. No, no. Tell us about the future plans that you have.
Ralph Del Duca: Well there’s going to be going on after this complex here … There’s a small plaza which you own adjacent to San Francisco By The Bay. We are going to have a 24-story building there which has been approved. Adjacent to the Go-Train station, we have over a million square feet of space which is in the [Opelio 20:02] Official Plan Amendment. That’s going to be also developed and built within the next few years which means that a lot of development is going to start to shift east because a lot of the land that’s west of us has been absorbed. The costs are getting higher and higher. People are starting to look at an alternative.
If you look at the entire plan and what’s happening in Pickering, they plan to have a lot of intensification and they plan to do a lot of things to change the entire landscape of the city. It has a lot of green space but they’re also very selective as to how everything has been built. The entire downtown core is going to shift to the south, making it … It’ll be where Mississauga was 30 years ago. If somebody bought a place in Mississauga 30 years go, they’re living well now because they can sell it whether it’s their real estate was their RSP or they invest RSPs. It’s a whole new … You’re at the start of something big.
Andrew la Fleur: Yeah, absolutely. Is there anything else about this project, about yourself, your company … I didn’t ask you about but maybe that I should have?
Ralph Del Duca: We take pride in what we do. We build homes for people. I know it’s always profit is always the main thing but we also build it for people … We’ve always been selective on the sites we choose. Our sites have always done well from a sales, pre-sales perspective to a resale perspective. They always maintained their value and they’ve always maintained the type of feel that we wanted to explore and have the people feel when they move into our communities. We base it from … All of us at … We’ve been together as a team for a number of years so we’ve always looked at what people wanted and we try to give it to them. We’ve been very successful in that aspect. We always work with the communities and we work with the cities with development to make sure we give the right product at the right time for the right people.
Andrew la Fleur: If people want to find you or get ahold of you or get ahold of more information about Chestnut Hill, what’s the best way to do that?
Ralph Del Duca: Www.chestnuthilldevelopments.com
Andrew la Fleur: Great. Okay, thanks very much, Ralph. Appreciate your time today. I wish you all the best with San Francisco By The Bay.
Ralph Del Duca: Thank you, appreciate it. Hopefully we’ll see you out there.
Andrew la Fleur: I’m sure we will.
Ralph Del Duca: Okay. Thank you.
Andrew la Fleur: Thanks.
Ralph Del Duca: Bye.
Andrew la Fleur: Bye. Okay, there you have it. That was the interview with Ralph Del Duca from Chestnut Hill Developments. Hope you enjoyed that. Hope you learned a little bit more about Pickering today. If this sounds like something that you might be interested in, again, just head on over to truecondos.com and sign up for the information on this opportunity, San Francisco By The Bay, Phase 2 or you can always send me an email directly, email@example.com and I can get you that information. You can also reach me by phone, 416-371-2333. I’d be very excited to tell you more about this opportunity.
If you are interested, please get back to me as soon as you can because this is going to be a limited time offer. It’s a very limited number of suites that we have to sell with the special promotions. The promotions are very aggressive and they are very attractive from an investment standpoint. The best thing to do is sign up, get that information and we’ll send you all the details, the numbers, the analysis, the floor plans, the pricing and more. Go ahead and do that and we’ll get that right over to you. Thank you very much for listening to another episode here. We appreciate your support once again for this podcast. Have a great week and we will talk to you next time.